Canelo Alvarez to Fight Saunders in May, Opens as Large Favorite

By in Boxing on
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On February 27th, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez beat his mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim in dominating fashion. In fact, it was so bad of a beating that Yildirim’s corner threw in the towel at the end of the third round.

Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KO) successfully retained his WBC and WBA super middleweight titles and will now move on to the next challenge which is going to be Billy Joe Saunders on May 8th.

Canelo vs Saunders Betting Odds

The following betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:

  • Canelo Alvarez (-550)
  • Billy Joe Saunders (+400)

Alvarez opened as the rightful betting favorite with odds hovering just below -600. Since then, his odds have pretty much stayed between -500 and -625 depending on the boxing betting sites that you look at. Saunders opened as a +400 underdog and remains in the range or +333 to +460.

Does Saunders Have a Shot at Beating Canelo?

The question now turns to whether or not the WBO super middle weight champ Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14 KO) can derail the Canelo train. If you ask Saunders, he certainly believes so:

“I believe I am the only one with the footwork, know-how, skill-set, mindset and brain to unlock that door in Canelo. He’s the main man in the sport and the face of boxing. You have to give him respect, he hasn’t ducked anyone, he’s beaten good names, but nobody is unbeatable, and I believe I have got the tools to beat him if I use them properly and if the game plan comes off that I believe works.”

Since Canelo moved to the 168 pound weight class, he has made it clear that his goal is to unify the division.

It started last December when Alvarez dominated Callum Smith to capture Smith’s WBA super middleweight title and the vacant WBC belt via unanimous decision. Smith never had control of the fight and appeared to be out of his league with the smaller Alvarez.

As for Saunders, it’s hard to point at a truly remarkable win on his resume. Furthermore, he has just 14 KOs in his 30 pro victories, which won’t cut it when it comes to fighting Alvarez.

Saunders isn’t going to outbox Alvarez and he doesn’t have the power to stop him. More than likely, Alvarez will get in on the inside and do a lot of damage just like he has in his last handful of fights.

I see this contest ending with Canelo capturing the WBO title from Saunders via unanimous decision. I’d be surprised if Saunders won more than three rounds.

Will the WBC Stand in the Way of Canelo’s Mission Once Again?

As soon as it was publicly known that the WBC was forcing Alvarez to face Yildirim, the public backlash was fierce and it didn’t let up. In fact, it’s once again raging as fans and pundits complain about the sport’s ineptness as the fight against Yildirim should’ve never happened.

As I said before, this was nothing more than a cash grab for the WBC to get a pay day on the back of the sport’s biggest star. Most pundits believed the fight would be a one sided domination for Canelo and it was.

For starters, Avni was coming off a loss and a two year layoff. There was nothing in his resume that indicated he should be in the same ring as Alvarez.

On fight night, Canelo proved everyone right and the corrupt WBC officials wrong. Following the fight, WBC president Sulaiman commented on the result:

“I’m sorry for Avni. The paper sometimes doesn’t reflect the actions, and it was very unfortunate. We had great expectations, and it’s a matter where we [WBC] need to look into the process that is not working in some roads. Definitely, there are things that we have to go back and look at what is happening and how things evolve. As I say, he [Canelo] was tremendously successful, he was in great shape, and that stage should have been for a much greater fight.”

You think? Everyone was telling the WBC that this fight was a joke. We could all see that this was nothing more than a glorified sparring session for Alvarez.

Canelo never once complained about this matchup because he knew it was going to be an easy night as he took on a punching bag with feet.

Is There a “Greater Fight” for Canelo at 168 Pounds?

After Saunders in May, the goal is for Canelo to fight Caleb Plant (21-0, 12 KOs) in September for the IBF super middleweight title. That fight would be for all of the gold in the division. The winner would walk away as the undisputed super middleweight champ.

Plant’s a talented fighter, but he doesn’t have the skills to defeat Alvarez. It’s clear, Canelo is going to run through this division and take all of the gold.

Once Alvarez becomes the undisputed super middleweight champ, he will have to decide to go up in weight, down in weight, or force other fighters to come to this weight class.

If he stays at super middleweight, Alvarez could take on David Benavidez who wants to fight Canelo and would be arguably the best competition for Alvarez in this weight class.

However, it’s more than likely that Alvarez will face one of the following fighters in 2022 after he wins all of the gold in the 168 pound weight class:

Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KOs)

GGG and Canelo had two great fights with both ending in somewhat controversial fashion as there are many pundits and fans that felt Golovkin won at least one of their two contests.

Since their second bout in 2018, where Canelo got the controversial win, Golovkin has been publicly lobbying for a trilogy bout and chasing after Alvarez.

Canelo hasn’t run from GGG, but he has said that a third fight will happen after he makes history in the super middleweight division. This is a sentiment that promoter Eddie Hearn reiterated after the Canelo win on Saturday:

“The focus of Canelo and Eddy [Reynoso] is to be undisputed champion, and if we were to follow that line, it goes with Saunders in May, with Plant in September. The fight with Golovkin remains there as one great fight, but right now Canelo has history and legacy on his mind and that is being the undisputed champion in his division.”

If Golovkin can get through some intriguing matchups this year then he certainly becomes a legitimate option for Alvarez next year.

Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs)

Beterbiev is the WBC and IBF light heavyweight champ and is well on his way to becoming the division’s undisputed king. Most pundits feel that he’s the best in the division as Artur continues to steamroll the competition.

There’s been a few murmurs that Canelo could go up and fight Beterbiev, which would be a fantastic matchup. Artur has the power and physicality that could derail Canelo. That’s what makes this fight so exciting.

Can you imagine if Canelo is the undisputed 168 pound champ and he fights Beterbiev next year after Artur becomes the undisputed 175 pound champ? It could change the sport for the better.

Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs)

WBC middleweight champ Jermall Charlo has been publicly lobbying for a fight against Canelo who has acknowledged this. But, like with the other men on this list, a potential fight against Charlo won’t happen until next year.

Additionally, Charlo would most likely have to come up to super middleweight from the 160 pound weight class because it appears that Alvarez likes this weight more.

Charlo’s trainer has already stated that it wouldn’t be an issue for Jermall to go up in weight. The question now becomes whether or not Charlo would move ahead of GGG or Beterbiev.

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site. ...

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